Sudanese authorities have detained a Reuters stringer and an AFP reporter who were covering protests in the capital Khartoum, the external information council, which deals with foreign media organizations, said.
Reuters last had contact with its stringer early on Wednesday before he went to report on the demonstrations, which resulted in clashes between police and protesters.
Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP in Khartoum for nearly a decade, was covering the protests on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas on protesters.
By arresting and intimidating journalists, confiscating newspapers and attempting to censor news dissemination, the Sudanese authorities keep trying to get journalists to stick to the official narrative or pay the price.
An official in the external information council, contacted by Reuters, did not say whether charges would be brought against the two Sudanese journalists. The official had earlier said they would be released early on Thursday.
“We do not know the circumstances of the detention and are actively seeking additional information about the situation,” a Reuters spokesperson said.
“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.
Protests and clashes with security forces broke out across Sudan early this month after Khartoum imposed tough economic measures in line with recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
At least seven local reporters have also been detained according to the Sudanese Journalists Network.
Reporters Magdi al-Ajib of the local privately owned newspaper al-Watan, Rishan Oushi of the local privately owned newspaper Mijhar al-Siyasi, Imtenan Al-Radi of the local privately owned newspaper al-Youm al-Tali, and freelance journalist Amal Habani were arrested on January 16.
Shawky Abdelazim, al-Youm al-Tali editor, Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters’ Sudan correspondent, and Abdelmunim Abudris, AFP’s correspondent were also arrested and remain in custody.
The Committee for Protection of Journalists condemned the arrests and the crackdown that the Sudanese government has targeted at the media since the advent of the protests.
“By arresting and intimidating journalists, confiscating newspapers and attempting to censor news dissemination, the Sudanese authorities keep trying to get journalists to stick to the official narrative or pay the price,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “We call on the authorities to release the seven journalists immediately and allow the press to do its job.”
Over the years, critics have accused President Omar al-Bashir’s regime of cracking down on the media in Sudan, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.